For a morning news anchor, waking up in the middle of the night (2:30am for a 6am show time) is an occupational hazard. Another unfortunate consequence is facing sheer exhaustion at the time most people are just getting their day started. With that in mind I’ve found the perfect way to wake up… by jumping in the 38-degree Long Island Sound! Hundreds of hardy and charitable Westport residents have been doing just that for 10 years now as part of the Penguin Plunge in mid-March which benefits Special Olympics CT. This year I joined ’em and a month later I’ve finally thawed out.
One thing that’s remained warm through out the years is the generosity of the participants, raising over $120,000 this year. Plungers also dove into the costume aspect this year, dressing as pirates, one large leprechaun, and my personal favorite the (middle aged) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! I slacked in the wardrobe department opting for a Denver Broncos t-shirt (my home town team) because I was hoping to send a subliminal message to Peyton Manning — which clearly put my team over the top!
So the moment had finally arrived, I’d talked my 6-year-old daughter out of joining me in the 5th of 5 flights of swimmers and I made a run for it with my wife and 3 kids (one newborn) looking on. I had to first find my FOX News camera crew there to film my expletive laden headfirst dive.
The water was every bit as cold as I’d expected and yes I did go in all the way, it’s all or nothing on this brisk March morning at Compo Beach. What I did not expect however is the feeling of exhilaration that accompanied the breathlessness; I actually soaked it up for a few extra seconds before making a run to my family and a nice warm towel. Like so many moments a much younger man waits for and builds up for months on end… it seemed to take place at break neck speed and be over in the blink of an eye!
Talking with my fellow Penguin Plungers afterward it was clear everyone seemed to have a different reason to dive, from charity, to sense of community, male (or female) bonding, or even a dare. While I shared all of the above motivations, I’ll return for that unrivaled, indescribable, thrilling feeling, like the coldest of cold showers in front of a thousand of your neighbors (radio station and camera crew) complete with the fear that all those dry female spectators are unaware (as Jerry’s girlfriend was) of the phenomenon publicly outed in that famous Seinfeld episode… SHRINKAGE! Yes ladies, “it shrinks… like a frightened turtle.”
So anyone with a simultaneous itch for charity and thrill seeking, conjure up a clever costume, drop me a tweet and join me next year; freezing your butt off for a cause is better as a team sport.
- Anchor Weekend FOX & Friends, 6-10 ET FOX News Channel
- Married to wife, Brandi, father of three; Emerson, William and Logan
- Avid sports fan, fitness enthusiast, Westport resident going on 4 years